Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard Refuse Same-Sex Benefits

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, allowing the possibility for married couples of the same-sex to finally be allowed the same federal benefits as other married couples. Primarily, the focus has been on the military and that ID cards can now be given to same-sex spouses, allowing them access to transferable benefits like the GI Bill. Despite individual opinions about the issue, the military follows orders and this ruling cleared the way for officials to follow the law.

However, when one is a member of the National Guard — part of the Army, but operated by the State — which laws is one to follow?

In Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, National Guard spokespeople announced that they would not be issuing ID cards or processing applications for benefits from their state-owned offices. These states only recognize heterosexual marriage as defined by law, placing the National Guard in a situation where federal and state law clash.

via Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard Refuse Same-Sex Benefits.

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U.S. gays face challenges serving abroad – Washington Post

Austin Watkins had reason to celebrate when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, marking a breakthrough in gay rights and making his husband eligible for federal benefits everywhere in the United States.

But as a civilian defense worker deployed in Japan, Watkins faces a unique barrier. It turns out that a “status of forces agreement,” signed 53 years ago by the United States and Japan, does not recognize same-sex marriage. That prevents him from living with his spouse in Okinawa.

For now, Joseph Marcey resides thousands of miles away in Washington. He would have to apply for a tourist visa every 90 days to live in Okinawa, and he wouldn’t be able to receive medical care at military clinics, shop at a commissary or obtain a dependent ID card from the Defense Dep

via U.S. gays face challenges serving abroad – Washington Post.

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Ginsburg officiates same-sex wedding | Gay News | Supreme Court | DOMA : Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source

WASHINGTON —Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday presided over the Washington, D.C. wedding of her longtime friend and Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser and his partner, economist John Roberts.

Ginsburg is the first Supreme Court justice to officiate same-sex nuptials, according to the Washington Post, just short of four months after the court struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prevented the United States government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states that have legalized them

via Ginsburg officiates same-sex wedding | Gay News | Supreme Court | DOMA : Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source.

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Social Security begins limited implementation of DOMA ruling – Poliglot

The Social Security Administration has begun processing limited benefits and payments for some same-sex couples in compliance with the Supreme Court’s invalidation of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the agency announced Friday.

“Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due,” Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, said in a statement.

via Social Security begins limited implementation of DOMA ruling – Poliglot.

Marriage Equality Faces Challenges in Florida :: EDGE on the Net

After spending 45 years being engaged, William Baxter and Peter Rocchio, of Winter Park, Fla., recently married at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. But Mary Meeks, an Orlando civil rights attorney, says, “I hate to be the downer [but in Florida] your [out-of-state] marriage certificate doesn’t mean a whole lot.” 

Waternark Online reports even with the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, marriage equality in Florida still has some significant obstacles to overcome.

A forum held at The Abbey in Downtown Orlando on July 17, called “After DOMA: Now What,” which was made up of a panel of attorneys, certified public accountants and activists, discussed the challenges same-sex marriage faces in Florida. The experts attempted to answer a variety of questions about gay marriage and the legality of marriage licenses from other states as well as immigration visas, taxes, veteran benefits and estate planning.

Three positive changes came out of the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, Meeks said: immigration rights, same-sex partner benefits for civilian and military employees of the Department of Defense, and same-sex partner benefits for federal employees. But while marriage provides couples with more than 1,000 legal federal benefits, Meeks says it is going to be awhile before federal agencies look over and fully apply the DOMA ruling in Florida. 

While Florida officials figure out how to apply these benefits towards same-sex couples, out political strategist Vanessa Brito of Miami will continue to fight for equal rights and started a petition to put same-sex marriage on the 2014 Florida ballot. Some activists, however, want a statewide referendum to change Florida’s marriage laws.

“It’s unlikely that Florida’s 2008 Amendment 2, which defined marriage as between a man and woman, could be overturned at this time in the state,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director, in the Miami Herald.

via Marriage Equality Faces Challenges in Florida :: EDGE on the Net.

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After DOMA, 36 States Will Have Little Choice On Gay Marriage

Opponents of same-sex marriage are bracing themselves for a veritable tidal wave of new legal challenges to laws in 36 states that do not recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples. Emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decision striking down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — a federal law restricting government marriage benefits to heterosexual couples — lawyers for the LGBT community are citing the court’s majority opinion as a legal basis for throwing out similar laws on the state level.

Leading the charge is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has filed suits inPennsylvania and North Carolina, and has plans to file a suit in Virginia as well. Unlike previous marriage equality lawsuits alleging violations of an specific state’s constitution, and culminating in the supreme court of that state, these suits allege violations of the United States Constitution, meaning that they could eventually make their way to the Supreme Court of the United States. This is a big deal. By opening up the floodgates for federal litigation against state marriage laws, the DOMA decision puts considerable pressure on the states to enact legal reforms — or face the strong possibility that reforms would be imposed upon them by the Supreme Court itself — making the prospect of national marriage equality greater now than ever before.

Anyone who has followed the DOMA case has heard by now that the ruling will have far-reaching implications, but most of us aren’t quite why that is, legally speaking. The ruling, which mandates that all officially recognized marriages be treated equally under the law, has immediate legal ramifications for only the 12 states that already allow same-sex marriages. Then there’s this: The Supreme Court ruled part of DOMA unconstitutional for violating the Fifth Amendment, but the ACLU and others are citing the decision as grounds to do away with similar laws, in the states, for violating the Fourteenth Amendment. How does proving that a federal law violates one part of the constitution help prove that a state law violates a different part of the constitution?


via After DOMA, 36 States Will Have Little Choice On Gay Marriage.

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Gay-marriage campaign heads to state courts – Washington Times

Freedom to Marry has named Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon as its immediate targets. All of these states have civil union or domestic partnership laws that can convert to same-sex marriage. In states including Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, activists are laying the groundwork to repeal amendments or laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Read more: Gay-marriage campaign heads to state courts – Washington Times.

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